The blocks around the innovative Bullitt Center suffer from an old-school urban problem — it’s tough to find a place to park.
Tuesday night, residents and workers around 15th and Madison’s Bullitt Center had their say about a proposed expansion of a restricted parking zone that limits the time cars from outside the neighborhood can be parked on the street in the area.
The main concern of the evening was from Capitol Hill residents about the lack of parking in their neighborhoods, which they blamed on commuters working in the vicinity.
Some residents spoke out against employees of the Bullitt Center, saying that when it was initially built employees and visitors wouldn’t park in their neighborhood spots but that behavior has since shifted.
Meanwhile, commuter Rosie Heffernan said that between the Bullitt Center, Temple De Hirsch Sinai, the expanding Seattle Academy, and the businesses that sandwich this section on all sides, she has a tough time finding parking for work. Bussing is not an option, she said, because there are no direct busses that go to this part of the neighborhood.
“Our usual overflow has been ‘Zone 2’d’ so we no longer have a place to park,” said Heffernan.
The RPZ program also can make permits available to employees of local businesses and organizations.
SDOT supervisor Margot Polley used her time Tuesday night to encourage attendees to reevaluate car ownership.
“As density increases, not everyone can have a car and drive everywhere. There are no easy solutions when it comes to balancing everyone’s needs and limited curb space,” said Polley.
The Capitol Hill Community Council, on behalf of a citizen who proposed the expansion, requested the City of Seattle to make more blocks eligible for Zone 2 parking through the Restricted Parking Zone (RPZ) Program. RPZs were created to help ease parking congestion in residential neighborhoods around places that typically have heavy traffic, like hospitals or universities. CHS reported on how the process works here. Other areas where residents have shown interest in Capitol Hill restricted zones include an area around Summit and a block near St. Mark’s.
Like most zoned parking in Seattle, Restricted Parking Zone 2 limits parking to two hours for non-permitted cars Monday to Saturday, 7 AM to 6 PM. However, residents in the neighborhood can apply for a permit, allowing them to park up to 72 hours.
A typical residential RPZ permit costs $65 and are good for “a 2-year cycle” — in RPZ 2, the cost for areas south of E Union is $16 thanks to subsidies from Swedish and Seattle University. Guest permits cost $30. Here’s where you can look up RPZ information by address. The program has been reviewed and modified over the years and zones are sometimes added or extended.
The RPZ 2 extension, because of its size, is required to go through a public comment process.
Bullitt Center employee Deborah Sigler suggested the expansion could be modeled after Wallingford’s Zone 5 parking, where parking during business hours is restricted but residents have access to permit parking from 5 PM to midnight.
“We don’t live in a vacuum… there’s going to be change,” she said. “With the Light Rail coming in, I think some of the impact of parking will be relieved. A lot of people in the Bullitt Center and in this neighborhood will be taking the light rail to work,” said Sigler.
But parking congestion isn’t limited to just the work week.
A neighborhood resident complained that people visiting the bars and restaurants in the evenings and weekends added to the parking problems and loud noise conditions as well.
“We have vibrant neighborhoods,” Polley said. “We want people to come over, and be a part of the nightlife. So right now we are trying to balance that with people who need to park after they come home from work in the evening.”
Public comment will be taken through the end of February by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and at (206) 684-8186. A decision on whether to expand Zone 2 parking will likely be reached by this summer.